The Fox Walkers enjoyed another sweet, sunny day on Thursday! We kicked off our time together by exercising our arm and core muscles as we took turns pulling the inner bark of Western Red Cedar through a leather stripper. We even formed a "Cedar train”, as it often required extra muscular help from friends to pull those strong fibers through the leather stripper! The intention behind this activity was to process the Cedar inner bark into even strips to use for weaving bracelets.
As you may know, Western Red Cedar is the most extensively used tree by the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest. The entire tree is integral to the livelihood of these nature-based populations, utilized for an incredible variety of survival purposes. The hard, durable, rot resistant inner wood of the Western Red Cedar is traditionally used to create houses, roofs, canoes, arrow shafts, boxes, masks and totem poles. The inner bark of the Cedar (which we processed on Thursday) is used even more extensively, as it is finely shredded for cradle padding, sanitary pads, and towels, and coarsely stripped for weaving into skirts, capes, dresses, ceremonial regalia, mats and sails. The tree’s sturdy limbs are twisted into ropes and used to tow hunted whales, while its strong and durable roots are used for weaving coiled baskets.
The Western Red Cedar is known as the “Tree of Life”, and it’s certainly no wonder why it’s been given this name! I could go on and on about the incredible gifts of Western Red Cedar, but I’m certainly no expert! However, if you’d like to learn more, I strongly suggest checking out the book The People of Cascadia by Heidi Bohan. I brought in a copy of this book on Thursday and it was pretty popular amongst children and as well as parents.
Anyway, after processing Cedar inner bark in the morning, the Fox Walkers ended up playing a super fun blindfolded Ninja game with a pool noodle! We then heard an intriguing story about a night time Capture the Flag scouting game, courtesy of Moon Bird and Running Deer. Finally, after a very full morning, we wandered off toward the creek, practicing Fox Walking and Raccoon Form along the way.
When we arrived at the creek, I shared a Cedar bracelet weaving craft with those children who were interested, while Patrick and some other children closely examined a deceased Shrew and eventually created a final resting ground for the critter.
Lots of rock throwing, creative imaginary play and general excitement around water ensued before we eventually made our way back towards the meadow to say farewell! It truly was a glorious day, and Pat and I are so grateful for all of the fun adventures that we’ve shared with the Fox Walkers this Spring. We’re looking forward to next week’s adventures. . . See you then!